Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Blessings In Another Country

Hey all,

After the last few blogs I've done on the cultural differences between the USA and Macau, I've had a few letters from readers asking me if Christmas will be different for us over here.  So I thought today I'd do a short blog on a few of the things we have done the same...and a few things we've done differently.

Here is Macau the Christmas decorations are beautiful.  Very different from those in the states.  In the USA, there are lots of trees and twinkie lights everywhere.  In fact, I'd say lights and trees are the major decorations.  But here in China, they don't have the access to Christmas trees so they do something different.  And while they do lights, even those aren't the same as we do.

Instead of trees, we get to look at the cutest paper/plastic type of blow up lantern sculptures.  Most are are of pandas, which is, of course, China's big decoration over here.  They are wearing Santa hats, riding sleds, playing instruments and a hundred other different themes.  There are also puffy looking reindeer, Santas, elves and other Christmas characters.  All very Chinese and so much fun to look at.  And I'm told they will keep these up until the Chinese New Year in February.

And the flowers...they go crazy over here.  Poinsettias, mums, coleus, and many others, all in bright festive colors, line the streets, circle the decorations and dot the steps of all the casinos.  Live Christmas trees, the few I have seen are usually in the bigger hotels or casinos.  And I can't help myself.  I have to stick my face in them and inhale!  Ohhh...it smells so good!



The lights here are different as I said.  They use LED type lights and they are amazing.  They race, they drip, they sparkle and they glow in so many different ways it's hard to describe.  But the different displays are incredible and watching them come on at dusk, it finally feels like Christmas.  Here is Jonathon in Senado Square with icicle lights dripping overhead.  You can barely see the big blue Christmas tree flashing behind him.

Check out a few of these other pics.



 




And doing our regular Christmas traditions?  We're adapting them a bit.  There isn't any Christmas music on the radio over here, so we've had to use itunes to download enough to get us through.  I've got a few CDs, but you can only listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas Story and the Beach Boys Christmas Album just so often before you want to hurl them out the window.  And since music stores are still something we haven't discovered here yet, the internet is a Godsend.

This evening we were able to enjoy a tradition we do every year.  We had to change it up a bit because of where we are, but overall, it was the same fun time we usually have.  Every year, no matter where we are, Jonathon and I love to go to some special place and have a coffee and a treat and just wander around.  We people watch, look at Christmas decorations and do some shopping.

This year we went to Senado Square which is one of the main tourist areas here.  We grabbed a holiday Starbucks coffee, and then, to our delight, we found a guy selling hot chestnuts.  Now that's a story in itself. The guy takes the chestnuts and puts them in this little cement mixer type thing over an open flame.  He cooks them that way and the scent drifting across the square is mouthwatering.  Then he pops them in a paperbag and hands them to you.  Fresh, hot and ready to eat.

We munched our way up to the Ruins of St. Paul and just sat down and people watched for awhile.  Again, the decorations were beautiful and for once it wasn't so crowded.  Teenage girls giggled and teenage boys strutted like peacocks trying to tempt a mate.  Tourists gawked and took pictures by the score.  None of which would come out since it was probably too dark.  LOL

There wasn't any Christmas music playing as is usual this time of year, but the sound of babies laughing and my sweet baboo whispering how much he was enjoying himself was music enough.  I loved the time we spent together, and although it isn't "the normal" Christmas celebration, it will be one I remember for the rest of my life.

Hugs and I'll see you on Friday with our latest guest blogger, Joe Vadalma.  He's got a great blog about how the smallest things can trigger an idea that turns into a wonderful new story!

CJ England










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10 comments:

Phylis said...

Wonderful blog CJ! Thank you for sharing the pics and the video! The dripping and snow falling is just beginning to take a hold here in Nebraska. We couldn't keep the dripping icicle lights in. I would miss the music as well. In fact I'm listening to Manhiem Steam Roller right now while I putter around the house before work.

CJ England said...

Phylis,

I LOVE Manhiem Steam Roller. Did one of their gigs during Christmas and they gave me a DVD. It's awesome!

Sue Roebuck said...

That's really interesting, CJ - I've been to Macau before it reverted back to China. My husband's Portuguese and spent his military service there so it was great going back for him. We stayed in the Pousada - is it still there?
Sue (gotcha on Alternative-Reads)
Fabulous pictures.

CJ England said...

Hey Sue,

Glad to have you here.

Did you stay at the one out in Coloane? That's the last island. Or the one on Macau proper near the tower. They are both around and very nice hotels.

Thanks about the pics. The decorations are lovely here.

Robin_Badillo said...

Thank you so much for posting this. Sometimes we live in our own little bubble and it's very heartwarming to see just how much we are all alike all over the world!!
Merry Christmas and have a spectacular New Year!!!

CJ England said...

Hey Robin,

Glad to see you here.

Yes. The more I travel the more I see that no matter what the differences, there is always something we have in common. The joy of Christmas is one of them.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Ray said...

Beautiful pictures. Your wandering reminds me of Christmas shopping in Barcelona several years ago. A friend and I walked the Ramblas one evening. It was so crowded that you could not walk without bumping into someone. Instead of coffee we stopped for ice cream.

On the Ramblas there is a huge circle that was being used by roller bladers and skate boarders.

My favorite place to shop in Spain is El Corte Ingl├ęs. I just looked it up for spelling and found that Wikipedia calls it Spain's only remaining department store chain.

What I like about the store is that all the clerks speak English. I can understand Spanish, but can't make myself understood. Customer Service gives out event tickets, maps of the city and the CS clerks know the city like the back of their hands.

Because I like the food I avoided places like MacDonald's. The only American business I patronized was Dunk'n Donuts.

I have never been to Macau and the last time I was in Hong Kong was so long ago that I would not longer recognize the place.

For a period of fourteen years I spent from six to eight months or more in the Mediterranean.

We have had snow twice already. From 1989 through 2005 I only saw temperatures below freezing once.

I would give anything if my family could have seen what I did and what you are describing in your beautiful blog.

Ray

CJ England said...

Ray,

Thanks for sharing. It's like being there myself.

And I too wish my family could see what we have. My kids did somewhat when we moved around in their youth, but the rest of the family kinda shakes their heads at us.

We've decided we both must have gypsy in our bloods way back somewhere. LOL

Ray said...

CJ
Maybe we do have gypsy. My grandparents were born in Russia. Moved to the state of Washington with their parents. My dad would drive 500 miles to look at wheat farms to compare them to his. When he was in his late seventies he bought a new 4x4 pickup for a road trip to Alaska. He and on brother flew there on fishing trips in different years. He traveled all over the West and Midwest. I remember when I was very young that we went to the Grand Canyon and later to Milwaukee to visit relatives.

One difference between Dad and me was that he was a fanatic about reaching his destination. When I was 19 I hung out with two 17 year old girls. It wasn't romantic. We just hung out. One weekend we drove the 200 miles to my parents' home. Normally the trip took four hours. We stopped everywhere that looked nice and took nine hours.

That same year 1964 I got orders from Bremerton, WA to Pensacola, FL. One other Corpsman got orders to the same class. It took us 26 days to cross the country. One stop was Indianapolis where we stayed with the parents of a friend who was a great story teller. Every morning when we got up to leave he would ask us to stay another day. He claimed that when he was fifteen years old he used to be one of Al Capone's personal drivers. Instead of going to Pensacola directly when we got to Florida we spent a few days with my favorite aunt in Titusville. She and her husband worked for Boeing at the Cape. That was fun. While we were there they moved diagonally across the street. I remember carrying furniture with my glasses so fogged I couldn't see where I was going. After the move we sat around drinking homemade orange and grapefruit wine.

Ray

CJ England said...

Ray,

You know what I think? I think some of us...those who have that gypsy blood have this ability to get distracted by the journey.

Once on our way moving from Florida to Idaho, we went through N. Carolina. It took us three weeks to get out. We laugh about it, saying we were in a time warp or something.

All I know is we had a wonderful time, but have no idea why we were there for so long. LOL